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" (John 15:26-27) John explicitly tells those who have come to walk in this way of knowing to pursue this knowledge in others.
In his set of three epistles, which are held up with the apostle's other writings as central doctrines to the humanistic elements of Christianity, John delivers a summation of the relationship between man's regard of God and his treatment of his fellow which points to the morality underscoring his spiritual vision. In each letter, the author showers his addressees with evaluations on this topic. In each, he explicates the Christian missive that 'walking in truth,' or knowing God, should be observable in one's love for his fellow man, noting that the Johannine conception of Christian ethical behavior interprets the sharing of faith as the greatest good. This may be considered to differ from the synoptic perspective in that it pays less heed to the essential and practical goodness in Jesus actions and teachings and more to acknowledgement of his holiness.
In his first epistolary letter, John asserts that "if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." (John 1: 7) That we are all children of God is the impetus for John's conception. By walking in truth, he explains, one can be protected from sin and from the ill-will of others. In this asylum, one will be endowed with a peace which he is convicted to share with those around him. The sanctuary John speaks of is one which, in the Johannine tradition, can be achieved by knowledge of the truth.
Here, the Gospel of John provides a groundwork for later implication of the Holy Spirit, which is the embodiment of the light that John speaks of here. Where the Holy Spirit is concerned, the nature of knowing takes on its true import, representing the way to salvation. We learn here above that Jesus had left man and earth to sit at the right hand of God, the Father, sending the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, in his place. For man to join Jesus at the right hand of God though, he must come to know the Counselor, whom he will know if he loves God and his Son. If he does know these things, and has dedicated his life to seeing that others know of them, then, he will find his proper place in heaven and in the hereafter. But John's Gospel also speaks of this as a time of judgment for those who have not known God. For those people, the presence of the Holy Spirit is as a warning and a watcher. The Holy Spirit foretells of the Second Coming, of Judgment and of Armageddon by its instruction on morality toward fellow man and the expression of this love by teaching the ways of the scriptures. John warns that Jesus told, "8 when he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[a] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned." (John 16: 8-11)
Jesus, according to the Gospel of John, casts the arrival of the Holy Spirit as something of a judge, dispatched to man to offer him the chance at redemption. That redemption, he tells through the construction of spiritual faith and the introduction of the Holy Spirit, must come from the supreme love of having that spirit within. We find the construction for this faith in another of his epistles.
In his second letter, John's addressee is offered a proposition of mutual affection on the basis of a shared knowledge of truth. Extending upon the theme present in the first letter, John makes the promise that in walking together in truth, they would not simply share in love with one another but would most assuredly be loved by all the children of God who walked in truth. To his addressee, John commences that "the elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever." (II John, 1: 1-2)
The theme which has become most apparent in John's teachings is that the ability of men to behave Christianly toward one another is preempted by their sharing of faith. In this commonality, he explains, men will be driven to good toward each other as an extension of the good-will of God which they have come to know. In the absence of this extension of faith is the threat of the judgment of the Holy Spirit upon those who have known and failed in their duty as teachers, those who have been shown but refuse to know and those who have not had the opportunity or wherewithal to know. As only those who have had the Holy Spirit within them will achieve salvation on Judgment day, the onus is put upon man to see to it that those within reach can be shown how to walk in the light. The connection which says that the Holy Spirit is within Father and Son, and therefore, within all of us who have come to know and love God and Jesus Christ, also denotes a connectivity for all man. Here, we are instructed to fulfill the promise of Jesus to all men of his sacrifice, but we also learn that his sacrifice was only for those who would come to know and accept him into their lives.
Certainly, in the Gospel of John, explicit reference to the Holy Spirit states that he will bring both the promise of life eternal to all men and the hammer of judgment. In no uncertain terms, John tells his disciples that the implications of failing to know God or to show gratitude that he sacrificed his only begotten son so that we could be forgiven for our sins would be too great for man to comprehend. In sending the Holy Spirit, the Gospel of John tells that Jesus would say, "12 I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 but when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16: 12-16) the threat of redemption is here stated, and so with it comes the grave responsibility for all Christians who do know the way of God to help save others from this ultimate judgment. Those with the Holy Spirit in them, Jesus tells us, will come to know that which faces man. Indeed, he promises that this is why he has sent the Counselor, to make us know of the meaning of our actions and the judgment which awaits us for them as well. Thus, the promise of Jesus as shown through the gift of the Holy Spirit is that each man will truly have an opportunity to seek and gain redemption.
Such is a promise which John continues to foster in his third of the three letters also considered in this discussion. Here, he exclaims that "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.; Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;" (III John, 1: 4-5) This is consistent with but expansive upon the doctrine contained in the first two letters, drawing a correlation between truth and love which is not supernatural at all but defined by the relationship amongst men. Where truth is present, so too will love be a presence of great power. Thus, we are given a third constructive building block to understanding the set of relationships which ties the embodiment of Christ in the Holy Spirit to the ultimately manifestation in man's responsibility to stake out and save his brothers.
There is an inbuilt endorsement of proselytizing, therefore, in the Johannine tradition, that marks the gospel as distinctive and, in fact, conflictive to the evolving church at the time of its inception during the 1st century of the common era. Nonetheless, it would offer up one of the core and consistent principles in evidence today in both scripture and sacrament.
And indeed, it is with no small degree of reverence that we accept the faith as professed by John. As the first apostle typically listed in the recounting…[continue]
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